Valley International Airport
|Owner||City of Harlingen|
|Elevation AMSL||36 ft / 11 m|
Valley International Airport (VIA) (IATA: HRL, ICAO: KHRL, FAA LID: HRL) is owned by the City of Harlingen, in Cameron County, Texas. It is operated by a nine-member airport board appointed by the mayor. HRL is centrally located in the Rio Grande Valley and is referred to as the "Gateway to South Padre Island" with travel amenities and door to door transportation to South Padre Island. With over 2,400 acres (970 ha) HRL is the largest airport in the RGV with room for future expansion. HRL has the longest runways in the area with modern aircraft approach systems that minimize chances of delays during bad weather.
Current airlines are Southwest Airlines, United Airlines (via United Express), American Airlines (via American Eagle), Frontier Airlines, Delta Air Lines (seasonally via Delta Connection) and Sun Country Airlines (seasonal service). They fly nonstop to Austin, Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW and DAL), Denver, Houston (IAH and HOU), and Minneapolis/St. Paul. HRL is a large air cargo port ranked in the top 80 airports in the United States; FedEx and DHL fly wide-body jets.
Harlingen Air Force Base closed in 1962; a 1961 budget by President John F. Kennedy proposed to close 70 air bases in the U.S., and the airfield was turned over to the City of Harlingen and converted to civil use as Valley International Airport after 1967, when Hurricane Beulah flooded the original Harlingen civil airport (at , where the Harlingen Country Club is now).
From 1947-48 to 1960 Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) DC-3s stopped at Harlingen Air Force Base; in 1960 Harvey Richards Field got a 4900-ft runway and TTa moved there until they moved back to the former AFB after Beulah.
First jets at Harlingen were Trans-Texas Douglas DC-9-10s at the end of 1967. In 1968 Trans-Texas DC-9s flew nonstop to Corpus Christi and Houston Hobby Airport and direct to Dallas Love Field, Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. Trans-Texas flights to Mexico started in 1967; in 1968 Convair 600s flew nonstop to Monterrey, Mexico and Tampico, Mexico and one-stop to Veracruz, Mexico. Convair 600s flew to Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, San Antonio and other Texas cities. Flights from Harlingen to Mexico ended in 1971-72.
In 1978 all Texas International flights from the airport were DC-9s with nonstops to Austin and Houston Intercontinental Airport; TI flew direct to Los Angeles (LAX) via Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Albuquerque. Texas International pulled out of HRL in 1979, but later merged with Continental Airlines which eventually resumed service to Harlingen. Continental merged with United Airlines which continues to serve the airport via United Express with Canadair CRJ-700s operated by SkyWest Airlines and Embraer ERJ 145s flown by ExpressJet Airlines.
Mainline jets at the airport included American Airlines Boeing 727-100s and Boeing 727-200s, Braniff International Airways Boeing 727-200s and Continental Airlines Boeing 727-100s, Douglas DC-9-10s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. In 1982 Braniff 727s flew nonstop to Dallas/Fort Worth three times a day, continuing to Chicago, Denver or Omaha In 1987 Continental flew four DC-9 nonstops a day to Houston (IAH) continuing to Baton Rouge, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul or Omaha. In 1989 American flew four nonstop 727-200s to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and one nonstop to Houston (IAH) while Continental had three daily nonstops to Houston (IAH), one 727-100 and two DC-9-10s. In 1999 American EagleATR-72s nonstop to DFW had replaced American jets while Continental Express ATR-42s nonstop to IAH had replaced Continental jets.
Southwest Airlines began serving Harlingen as an intrastate airline in 1975 with Boeing 737-200s. Harlingen was the fourth city added by Southwest after the original Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in 1971. In 1979 Southwest Boeing 727-200s and Boeing 737s stopped at HRL. In 1986 Southwest was sending ten weekday 737s from the airport: seven nonstops to Houston Hobby Airport, two nonstops to San Antonio and one nonstop to Austin; eight flights a day were one-stop to Dallas Love Field.
Sun Country Airlines flew McDonnell Douglas DC-10s and Boeing 727-200s to the airport from Minneapolis/St. Paul during winter months and continues to serve Harlingen seasonally with Boeing 737-800s.
Valley International Airport covers 2,428 acres (983 ha) at an elevation of 36 feet (11 m). It has three asphalt runways: 17R/35L is 8,301 by 150 feet (2,530 x 46 m); 13/31 is 7,257 by 150 feet (2,212 x 46 m); 17L/35R is 5,949 by 150 feet (1,813 x 46 m).
In 2011 the airport had 43,731 aircraft operations, averaging 119 per day: 36% general aviation, 34% military, 22% airline, and 8% air taxi. 32 aircraft were then based at the airport: 88% single-engine, 9% multi-engine, and 3% jet.
|American Eagle||Dallas/Fort Worth|||
|Delta Connection||Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul|||
|Frontier Airlines|| Denver |
|Southwest Airlines|| Austin, HoustonHobby|
|Sun Country Airlines||Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul|||
|4||Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota||20,000||Delta, Sun Country|
|5||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||19,000||American|
On April 2, 2012, United Express flight 4128 made an emergency landing at Corpus Christi due to unknown reasons when it suffered damage to its front landing gear and also experienced a flat tire. The flight originated in Harlingen and was heading to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. There were 37 passengers on board and there were no injuries. The aircraft was an Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet operated by ExpressJet on a code sharing flight on behalf of United Airlines.
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